This hike is easy/moderate depending on your experience, the trail itself is well defined and easy to follow but has some incline to it. The waterfall is only a few hundred feet above the parking lot in elevation but you will descend then gradually ascend almost 1,000 ft. before descending back down to the waterfall.
Parking lot: 1980 ft
Lowest point: 1679 ft
Highest point: 2630 ft
Waterfall: 2400 ft
9.2 miles roundtrip
From the parking lot
From the parking lot, you begin the hike on San Juan Loop Trail which is a 2.1 mile loop, you can begin from the north or south side of the parking lot. If you begin from the north, you will pass by San Juan Falls. If you begin from the south, you will parallel Ortega Highway for a while which is typically pretty noisy.
San Juan Falls
If you took the north route, you will pass this bench and San Juan Falls to your right which is seasonal depending on rainfall.
Trail split to Chiquito Falls
Once you reach this split, you will see a bench and a sign that clearly marks which way to Chiquito Falls and which way to continue on to San Juan Loop Trail. Chiquito Falls is about 4 miles from that point (8 miles to the falls and back to the sign). This trail split is prominent and you can't really miss it.
Once on the trail to Chiquito Falls, you will cross a couple creeks which have rocks to cross on. The creek may be dry if it it was a dry winter and also be be high if there was a lot of recent rainfall.
The ascent is long and steady as you wind around from the canyon up to the ridge line before entering into the next canyon where the waterfall is. This section offers great views looking down over Ortega Highway. This section has a lot of exposure with minimal shady spots so doing this hike during a hot summer day can be demanding.
You will arrive above the waterfall and can cross or rock climb down to the bottom of the falls.